It’s that time of year, again, when the leaf peepers hurry far and wide to find the prettiest leaves. This photo was taken exactly four years ago to the day high in the Maryland mountains. The leaves on the trees on this hillside declare the breadth of Mother Nature’s paint palette. In this case, I was on one of my many trips between Ohio and Virginia before we moved to the Shenandoah Valley.
The scene just blew me away. The afternoon sun highlighted every hue and tone of russet that Big Meadows had to offer. Grasses, leaves of wild blueberries, reeds, scrub oaks, and even the red oak trees all glowed some shade of reddish-brown. The subtle differences all blended together made an impressive sight.
Big Meadows is a large mostly open bowl-shaped area along the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Surrounded by thousands of acres of hardwood forests, why this fantastic meadow is there is a mystery even to the park guides and scientists. I’m just glad it is.
“Russet Rainbow” is my Photo of the Week. Click on the photo to get the full effect.
When we visited the gift shop of Chihuly Studio in downtown Seattle, Washington, these beautiful pieces of glass art naturally caught my eye. I’m not sure why, but I was surprised to see that such expensive pieces were on display and for sale among the rest of the regular gift shop items of books, postcards, and posters.
Each piece was priced at thousands of dollars, which explains the young, attentive guard. The display itself was a work of art and reminded me of the rainbow of fall colors soon to arrive across Northern Hemisphere deciduous woodlots.
I love to visit the local produce auction located just north of our home. After each visit there, I feel uplifted by the fragrances, colors and variety of offering the farmers bring to sell. The buyers and sellers reflect the range of produce and flowers sold. It truly is an enjoyable place.
I am inspired by the cadence of the auctioneers as I roam around the spacious grounds photographing various shots. The vivid fall colors and the crazy textures of these gourds and pumpkins particularly caught my eye.
Though the leaves had already reached their peak when I shot this scene, the setting sun’s radiance illuminated those leaves that remained. I was also amazed at how the low angle of the fleeting light bathed this Amish farmstead set in one of the many valleys in Holmes County, Ohio.
When I was a youngster, each fall my father would pack the family into the old jalopy and head to Holmes County, Ohio from Canton to view the leaves.
The trees were gorgeous, the pastoral vistas delightful. It was like stepping back in time once we crossed the county line. I suppose some people still feel that way today.
Like my father, I loved coming to Holmes County. The colorful leaves, the tangy Swiss cheese, the horse and buggies, and the images of a simpler life left a lasting impression on me, even as a juvenile.
The air was crisp and clean, the views splendid, the people quaint. With Mom a landscape artist, Dad kept pointing out scenes she could paint, as if Mom needed any help noticing.
Before entering the county seat, Millersburg, we always stopped at the same place. Dad would pull off to the side of the road by the golf course so we could all admire the giant, vibrant sugar maple tree that stood on the course near the highway. It was a stately fixture to be sure, aglow with yellow, orange and red leaves. Against the manicured green fairways, it was a picture of beauty.
Dad would pull out his pride and joy eight-millimeter movie camera and film away. He loved to show the home movies over and over again at family gatherings. I don’t need to view the old footage to recall the moment. The memories are as vivid as the leaves on that old maple.
Perhaps that’s because irony of irony I ended up spending my adult life here. I pass by the memorable spot frequently. The natural beauty is a nice reminder, especially in autumn.
I don’t have to pile in the car and drive 35 miles to see the living artistry. I just have to look out the window. With the leaves at their peak, the real life painting outside our door is ever changing.
Of course, I do like to tour the hills and valleys of our county to take in the complete show. I have my favorite routes.
I especially enjoy traveling around taking digital photographs on partly cloudy days. One minute everything seems dull, then the sun breaks through, and I can’t snap the camera shutter fast enough. My father would probably tell me to get a camcorder.
I love the brilliant fencerows dotted with burgundy ash, yellowy white oak, crimson red oak, sunny sassafras, and red, green, yellow and tangerine sugar maples. The hardwood rainbows highlight emerald hayfields and stands of brittle corn shocks.
I also enjoy occasional drives through the heavily forested Killbuck and Black Creek valleys. The steep hillsides are loaded with the same mixed hardwoods as in the eastern end of the county.
White clapboard farmhouses and weathered barns, surrounded by lush green lawns, lay at the feet of the dappled hills. More often than not chocolate soybean fields fill in the narrow bottoms.
Even with that much splendor, I still return to the side of the road by the golf course. Though the old tree my father loved is gone, time has matured others nearby.
Buoyed by the beauty and the memories, I snap a few shots of the delightful scenery. I am keenly aware of being in both the present and the past. Like the changing seasons, the ebbs and flows of life’s ironies have that everlasting effect.
Even before we left to visit our daughter’s family in Virginia’s lovely Shenandoah Valley, signs of fall were abundant.
A casual drive around the Holmes County countryside provided enough evidence to
convince even an inattentive jury. Autumn had no choice but to plead guilty as charged.
Fall’s natural arrival was indisputable. Leaves had begun their annual transformation from green to some color of the rainbow. Others, due to the late summer dryness, simply fell off the trees altogether.
The regular purr of leaf blowers had replaced the regular whine of lawnmowers, further proof that summer had succumbed to fall. Occasional columns of white smoke signaled smoldering leaf piles.
Fall weather arrived just before we left for our Virginia visit. A strong cold front pushed the warm, muggy air out, and replaced it with cloudy, rainy, cooler days and nights. The annual fall fogs had already begun making morning commutes temporarily treacherous.
In my own yard, silky green to purplish dogwood leaves accentuated the trees’ bold, bright red berries. The backyard birds weren’t too pleased with me for disturbing their feasting.
My neighbor was just beginning an early harvest of his field corn, and we had yet to have a frost. Elsewhere, other farmers still resorted to the old-fashioned and nostalgic way of picking corn. They filled their fields with row upon row of shocks, mimicking an encampment of teepees.
A month ago already football had replaced baseball as the primary pastime, whether viewed from the bleachers or the couch. Back outside, squirrels scurried across the road. Some of them didn’t make it, casualty to road kill or a hunter’s sharp aim.
Long before the leaves began to change colors, autumn was being ushered in with human flare. Front porches once home to pots of impatiens, petunias and begonias were now decorated with all sizes of orange pumpkins, gold, white and crimson chrysanthemums and multi-colored and curiously shaped gourds.
For those desiring more man-made symbols, giant ghouls and inflated spiders hanging on webs big enough to catch a bus popped up almost overnight. The business industry had also begun their annual capitalization of fall with seasonal displays and multi-media commercials.
Inventory at roadside produce stands had changed accordingly. Bound bundles of cornstalks and the aforementioned flowers and squash replaced zucchini and tomatoes.
One place banked on a narrow market share. The good folks only offered the scarce bittersweet. By the number of cars in their tiny lot, they seemed to have found their niche.
Fall festivals, often historically annual events, began to celebrate nearly every conceivable aspect of autumn. A town picked a theme, say pumpkins, apple butter, antiques, wooly worms, quilting, or just good old-fashioned fun, and the festival was on.
These endeavors were not unique to Amish country either. Large banners across the main drags of many a town on our drive from Ohio to Virginia announced their particular local event.
Fall even showed its face on menus with fresh pumpkin pie, locally grown apples sliced and dipped in yummy caramel, and of course the seasonal snack mix of candy corn and salted peanuts.
Given all these obvious signs of fall, there can be no doubt. From gardens to town squares, fall is in full force everywhere we look.